When I first got so tired that I went to bed for a year and a half, I kept thinking it would get better. I kept waiting to feel better so I could get back to my life. While it did improve, it never went away.
And when I got my headache it was much the same. I kept expecting it to go away so that I could get back to being productive. So that I could do all the things I wanted to do.
The fatigue has been with me for eleven years now. The headache for seven. There are days that are a little better and days that send me to bed. Mostly I'm tired and hurt all the time.
If you'd told me at the beginning of either of these that I'd have them for the rest of my life, I'm not sure what I would have done. Having hope that they'd get better helped me go on. Having hope that I'd get my old life back made it worth trying.
But I'm at a point now where I don't think I'll get better. I think these will be with me forever. And even if they won't, they are now. This is my life now. And I can't just sit around waiting to get better before I do something with my life.
That's been a tough one. What can I do? There are so many things I used to do that I can't anymore. And there are so many things I wanted to do that I never got the chance for. It would be really easy to get angry or depressed at my situation. And sometimes I do.
But mostly, I am grateful. I have learned so much. I have learned to slow down. I have learned to say no. I have learned to do the important things and let the other things go. I have learned to listen to my body and take better care of it.
But that's not the best part. The best part is I've learned that I am more than just what I can produce. I am more than what I have to offer physically. I have other things to give, other ways to serve, other ways to be of value.
And one of the best things is, I've learned how to better strengthen others.
In the past my service to others was always physical: make them dinner, help them clean, take care of their yard, take some of their work upon myself to ease their burdens. It was good service; it was heartfelt. I am glad I could do all those things.
My service now is different. Now I listen. I spend time with people. I share my heart. It's less obvious service. You can't see something I cleaned or made. But I can feel their burdens lighten. I can see them ready to go back into the fray. They are stronger when our visit is over. And so am I.
There is great power in being able to do something for someone that lifts their physical burdens. It matters. But there is also divine power in strengthening them so they can lift their burdens themselves. I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to do both.